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Xbox’s cloud game publisher could succeed where Stadia failed

Xbox confirmed it formed a new organization within Xbox Game Studios Publishing to bring cloud-native games exclusively to Xbox systems and services.

In a 16=minute video posted to a YouTube channel for Xbox game developers during GDC 2022, Kim Swift, senior director of cloud gaming, details the unnamed cloud gaming organization within Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the kind of games it is looking to publish. Swift states that Xbox Game Studios Publishing’s mandate with cloud gaming is to “partner with world-class game development teams to develop cloud native games to bring unprecedented experiences to players that can only be achieved with Cloud Technology.” So far, no games from this new initiative have been announced, though Hideo Kojima is rumored to be working on one.

Although Xbox Game Pass already allows players to stream many games from the cloud on mobile, PC, and console, the games, this new organization will focus on “cloud-native” titles. That means these games will require cloud gaming technology to achieve their vision. Some examples Microsoft gives include using natural language processing on game NPCs, then taking the extra power to improve visuals, destructible environments, player counts, and randomized elements in games. 

Overall, the prospects of cloud-first games are exciting, but we’ve heard this potential teased before at Google Stadia’s GDC 2019 unveiling. While that presentation teased the impact cloud technology could have on game development and the titles themselves, Google never produced any exclusives that actually used that technology in cool ways. Before the studio’s closure, Kim Swift was even at Stadia Games & Entertainment as a game design director.

We still have to wait and see how effective and successful this new Xbox Game Studios Publishing organization will be as it’s exploring uncharted territory in AAA console gaming. That said, Microsoft’s access to Azure and xCloud technology and history of successful game development and publishing instills a bit more confidence that it will be able to pull this off.

Xbox Game Studios Publishing’s nameless cloud gaming organization is definitely a group to watch in the coming years as cloud gaming becomes more widely available to players and used by developers.

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